& cplSiteName &

WiC Panel: Societal Pressure Drives Diversity & Inclusion

Kelsey Kusterer Ziser
5/17/2018
50%
50%

AUSTIN, Texas -- Big Communications Event – Societal pressure is mounting for companies across industries to make diversity and inclusion (D&I) a real priority in their digital transformations. And, while measuring success in D&I can be challenging, real change only comes with buy-in from top executives.

These were a few of the sentiments expressed by panelists at Light Reading's Women in Comms workshop ahead of this week's Big Communications Event (BCE).

"Society is forcing companies to do something, as opposed to companies doing something because they want to do it," said Micaela Giuhat, vice president of Product Management, Cloud Native Core for UK-based Metaswitch Networks .

(L to R) Sarah Thomas, Light Reading; Jennifer Kyriakakis, Matrixx; Suzanne McCormac, VMware; Heidi Westbrook, Fujitsu Network; Micaela Giuhat, Metaswitch.
(L to R) Sarah Thomas, Light Reading; Jennifer Kyriakakis, Matrixx; Suzanne McCormac, VMware; Heidi Westbrook, Fujitsu Network; Micaela Giuhat, Metaswitch.

She explained that new legislation in the UK is forcing companies to be transparent about their support of women in the workplace. As of April, employers in England, Wales and Scotland with 250 or more employees are required to publish data on the pay gap for men and women in their workforce. According to The Guardian, "Analysis of the 10,014 employers who submitted data in time revealed that almost eight out of 10 pay men more than women."

While new legislative requirements may push UK companies in the right direction for diversity, there's still a long way to go. Giuhat noted that Metaswitch is about 80% male, and of the 20% women, only 8% are engineers.

At VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), D&I initiatives are gaining success since they come from the top, said Suzanne McCormac, director of Global Market Development within VMware's Telco NFV Group. The mantra of the vendor's CEO is to "innovate in everything you do" and D&I is central to that, added McCormac.

The panelists agreed that measuring the success of D&I initiatives can be challenging. At Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), Heidi Westbrook, director of ICP and North American Carrier Sales, said several women on the engineering team took on a grassroots effort -- called the Women's Innovative Network -- to identify measurable diversity objectives. They started by tracking graduation rates for women in computer science/information technology degrees at 18% nationally.

"Our objective at Fujitsu is to exceed that [rate of 18% in hiring] -- we're now at 22% so we're hiring at a greater rate than they are graduating," said Westbrook. "Those are the kinds of metrics we're watching as we bring in this next generation."

While quotas are one way to drive diversity, the panel was divided on whether they are the best approach. Quotas are necessary to shift the pendulum in favor of diversity, and can be discarded once change has been successful because companies won't need them anymore, said Giuhat.

Conversely, Fujitsu doesn't have a quota system, and Westbrook said she's not a fan of them -- company culture should change by motivation, not mandatory compliance, she said.

One audience member asked how women can gain corporate support at every step in their careers and how to break the glass ceiling of middle management -- a position where many woman leave the workforce or face difficulties moving higher up the ladder.

"My feeling is that sponsorship for women and inclusivity has only recently had a major groundswell, and by that I mean in the last ten years or less," said Westbrook. "In our company, we don't have a lot of women in very senior levels, but we're getting critical mass at the VP level and that's by design."

The need for work-life balance can become increasingly challenging for women as they move up in the workforce, but Jennifer Kyriakakis, founder and vice president of marketing at Matrixx Software Inc. , said advocacy programs and identifying colleagues as sponsors can address that issue.

"Formal advocacy programs can help so you don't worry about making trade-offs on work-life balance if you have that advocate in your pocket," said Kyriakakis.

The panel closed with advice to women looking to advance or companies looking to transform.

With new technologies on the horizon like 5G, it's an exciting time for the telecom industry so women can look forward to even more opportunities for career growth in the industry, explained McCormac.

On a personal note, she advised women to, "Always venture to be your authentic self. It's important to show up, be who you are, and not try to be something you're not."

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Women in Comms Audio
Archived Audio
Twitter Feed
Women's Watercooler
Discussion Boards
December 22, 2017 3:58:57 PM
UN Women HeForShe
spc_Dunphy
October 24, 2017 7:10:11 AM
Better Online Communication Makes Organization Sense
shirawinget
April 27, 2017 1:54:38 PM
Do you know women in tech?
Sarah Thomas
March 5, 2017 12:08:01 PM
Swedish Mansplaining
ErynLeavens
March 3, 2017 3:24:50 PM
Women's History Month
Sarah Thomas
February 24, 2017 12:15:59 PM
The career-break penalty
Sarah Thomas
February 17, 2017 10:25:33 AM
Risk taking differences
Sarah Thomas
February 17, 2017 9:51:21 AM
Upcoming WiC Events!
Sarah Thomas
Contribute Here
Women in Comms Poll
WOMEN IN COMMS: SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US
WiC wants to hear your stories, experiences and impressions of the comms industry.

Take our short survey here!
Infographics
AppDynamics highlights the tech segments where women are the most prevalent and showcases a few making a big difference in their field.
Women in Comms Video
LRTV Documentaries
AT&T's BCE Keynote: 5G & SDN Worlds Colliding

5|17|18   |   18:07   |   (0) comments


At the Big Communications Event (BCE) 2018 event in Austin, Melissa Arnoldi, president of Technology and Operations at AT&T, spoke about AT&T's path to 5G and the important role software plays. 5G will eventually have a significant impact on how businesses work and how they engage with their customers.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2018

5|15|18   |   2:32   |   (0) comments


A recap of the 14th annual Leading Lights Awards in Austin, TX. Congratulations to all the winners!
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC Panel: Combatting Sexual Harassment in Denver

5|2|18   |   1:04:19   |   (1) comment


Executive Producer Janet Leahy, President of Arrow Solutions Kathy Boelter, CEO of Women of Wall Street Karen Ashworth Macfarlane and the Founder and CEO of Corporate Cowgirl Up Wendy Bohling join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas in Denver to discuss ways to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, help women advance and level the playing field.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Hollywood Producer Talks Cosby, Caution & Cable

4|25|18   |   5:16   |   (0) comments


Executive Producer Janet Leahy shares her story with WiC, offers advice for the cable industry to better support women and gives us a sneak preview of what she's working on next.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon on Drag & Drop Automation

4|23|18   |   03:40   |   (0) comments


DALLAS -- Automation Everywhere -- Srilakshmi Valisammagari, senior technologist & strategist - SDN/NFV Innovations for Verizon, addresses the operators' efforts to deliver automation to enterprise customers via Verizon Service Designer. Valisammagari says Verizon Service Designer simplifies the process flow -- from service design to implementation to provisioning ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Women of Wall Street CEO Offers Discrimination Solutions

4|18|18   |   6:15   |   (0) comments


Blind hiring, raising awareness, encouraging dialogue and ending binding arbitration agreements are a few ways the industry can thwart gender discrimination, says former Wall Street executive Karen MacFarlane, who saw first hand how pervasive it was in the financial industry.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Bohling: Have the Conversation to End Harassment

4|11|18   |   5:05   |   (0) comments


Gender consultant and author Wendy Bohling shares her thoughts on why we need to create an atmosphere of transparency, authenticity and accountability to make sure the #metoo movement doesn't ultimately backfire.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Why Telstra's COO Thinks Diversity of Thought Matters Most

4|4|18   |   6:09   |   (0) comments


Diversity of thought may be the most important in an industry that depends on innovation, according to Telstra COO and Tesla Board Member Robyn Denholm, who advises women to "just go for it" when it comes to building a career here.
LRTV Documentaries
New Orleans: Unique in Jazz, Coastline & Broadband

4|3|18   |     |   (0) comments


KANSAS CITY -- Light Reading's Mari Silbey interviews New Orleans CIO Kimberly LaGrue about investing in the city's network infrastructure and how broadband will form the foundation for smart city initiatives in the future. The interview takes place during the Smart Cities, Dumb Pipes ...
LRTV Documentaries
Come to BCE 2018: It's a Smart Move

4|2|18   |   01:24   |   (0) comments


Among the many great reasons to join us at BCE 2018 in Austin, Texas, are the educational workshops, panels and show floor demos. To find out more about Light Reading's Big Communications Event (BCE),
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Small Cell Forum CEO: Women on Boards Set the Tone

3|28|18   |   4:07   |   (0) comments


Female representation on company boards can set the tone for company culture and help companies perform better, but there's still few women on boards, Small Cell Forum CEO Sue Monahan tells Light Reading.
Shades of Ray
Why You Need to Join Me in Austin for BCE

3|27|18   |     |   (0) comments


Austin, Texas, is the place to be May 14-16 when Light Reading will host BCE 2018 and dig deep into automation, security, machine learning, the impact of open source, intent-based networking, 'the edge', SD-WAN, IoT and more... oh, and hand out some awards and have the industry's best ...